From city by the sea to small town England: why we moved

Last September my husband and I packed up our seafront flat in the unique, cosmopolitan, creative and influential city of Brighton & Hove, and moved 100+ miles north to a small, rather obscure town in Cambridgeshire. As two people in our twenties, we left our thriving church of 1,000+ people, our close friends, the conveniences and opportunities of living in a city, the beach, and more.

"But why…?" you may ask.

Haha, good question.

In a nutshell: because our lives are not our own. We belong to the Lord Jesus and we go where He wants us. We have gone from a church community with hundreds of seasoned and mature believers, to help a very small church that began 2 years ago with a lot of new Christians and needy people. It’s challenging, it’s raw, and it’s humbling - but God is doing amazing things and it is an utter privilege to see and be apart of lives being transformed from darkness to light, from glory to glory.

Not to say that we didn’t consider the practical aspects of moving. For us, God telling us to go was enough; our surname is Abraham, after all. But from a “practical wisdom” perspective, there were many reasons why we knew it would be good to relocate: my husband has much better work prospects here, we have family nearby, we were able to buy a decent sized family home (less expensive than city house prices), and there’s something refreshing about the peace and quiet of living in a village compared to the hussle and bussle of city life.

I’ll be honest though - it’s not been all peachy, and there have been times where I have struggled with loneliness and my purpose in being here - but God is faithful and He is developing our faith and character in ways that we never would have grown had we stayed where we were. I’m excited to see what He has for us here. Life with Him is always an adventure!

This is a fantastic message, am listening to it for the second time round right now.

"There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for."

— Elisabeth Elliot

Theme of mission continues…

It’s funny how I set a post about doing missions to be published last week while I was away at Mobilise (Newfrontiers conference for students & twenties), and that very thing happened to be the theme of the whole week!

There was a lot to chew on… the preaching was very challenging with a real call to die to self and live for Christ and His cause on the earth. Hope to write soon about some things that really stuck out to me.

"Missions is our joy, the simple, logical outcome of knowing Jesus"

Wise, stirring words from Rolland & Heidi Baker in one of their newsletters:

"It is impossible to be devoted to Jesus and not share Him, pure and simple. … Missions is our joy, the simple, logical outcome of knowing Jesus. We have life and hope; others don’t. We have reason to rejoice; others don’t. We have love in our hearts; others don’t. We have food and clothes; others don’t. We have health; others don’t. We have family; others don’t. We have no reason to be anxious; others are weighed down with cares. It is obvious that the calling of every believer in Jesus is to have a part in correcting these imbalances. That may take us across the street or around the world. It is also obvious that we should be utterly available to God to go anywhere and do anything, at any time. He can and will make a way as He leads us. "

Some resources on the Father’s love & Father heart of God

Having recently blogged about the Father’s love and loving others, I thought it would be useful to post links to some good resources where you can learn more about the Father’s love and His Father heart.

After all, truly understanding God’s love for us as His children in Christ will not only be the medicine to heal our hurt and wounded hearts (which we all have to some extent from living in a fallen world), but it will also propel us to passionately and joyfully take the Father’s love out to those around us so they can also know Him as well!

So here are some that I’ve found helpful:

'Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child].' (Psalm 27:10, AMP)

The link between knowing the Father’s love & loving others

There’s a reason why I’ve recently been blogging about both loving hurting, broken and lost people, and about knowing the Father’s love and growing in intimacy with Him.

It’s because they’re intrinsically linked.

To be honest, you could love other people for a number of different reasons: because it’s the “Christian” thing to do, because of feelings of guilt or obligation, out of a heart of justice, to make you feel good about yourself, and so on.

But to truly love those who are not easy to love in a genuine, sacrificial way - the way Jesus taught us to love (Luke 10:27-37; Matt. 5:43-48) - and without burning out and without losing joy… you need to live with a real knowledge of God’s love for you as His dearly beloved child.

If you have repented of your sin, have accepted by faith the free gift of forgiveness that Jesus bought for you at the cross, and have fully entrusted your life to the Lord, then you are in Christ and have been made a son/daughter of God (Galatians 3:26)! Which means that God has become your perfect Father (and Mother*) and loves you with a pure, unconditional, unchanging love - the same love He has for Jesus because you are in Christ!

No wonder the apostle John couldn’t contain himself when he wrote, 'See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!' (1 John 3:1, AMP)

And you know what, when you begin to grasp the depth and richness of the Father’s love for you, and live each day growing in that knowledge, it is the most energising, joyful, life-giving fuel that compels you to be devoted to God in all that you do and to love every person with a love that is supernatural, introducing our spiritually fatherless world to the Father.

And that, I believe, is what is at the very heart of being a Christian.

* God calls Himself “Father” but He also completely encapsulates motherhood as well. See: Isaiah 66:3; Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 27:10Matt. 23:37.

"[Jesus] died to make men holy, let us live to make men free."

— ‘Battle Hymn Of The Republic’, Page CXVI, Hymns II

We are surrounded by broken people; “Church, do something!”

Last week I had the privilege of meeting with a dear person so tragically and completely broken in every way imaginable, literally at the end of themself, who wanted to meet with me and friend of mine from church because they had encountered something of the love and peace of God when visiting our church, and realised that they desperately needed God to save them.

We listened to this precious human being as they described with such raw honesty how their life had been ravaged by abuse of every kind until there was almost nothing left, and we loved them and explained the gospel of grace to them and prayed for them, and said we wanted to support them and told them what we would do to get them the help they needed. And I went home that evening with tears in my eyes and a heart full of gratitude to God for the honour of being used by Him to show them His love and to begin the process of redeeming this person’s life.

But then I said to myself, this is one person; how many more people are like this in our city? Broken, dying, traumatised, frail, lonely, without hope… I hardly had to think at all because I know for a fact that our city is teaming with people like this - desperate, hurting people.

And then I realised… we have got to do more; the Church has got to do more.

I don’t meant that in a legalistic, “here’s your duty, now get on and do it in your own strength” sense. Not at all. What I mean is that we have GOT to wake up from our complacency. We need to get hold of the Father in desperate need for Him to give us His heart and to fill us up with His love and compassion and strength by the Holy Spirit, so that we might go out and take it to the countless hurting people around us who don’t have hope.

As William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once said: “Church, do something!” And by the grace of God, with the fuel of His love and the strength of the Holy Spirit, we can.

Heidi Baker - Love Them to Life Conference 2012

Heidi Baker (of Iris Ministries) is one of my heroes of the faith - a woman who has made it her life passion to know God and His love as intimately as she can, and out of that overflow joyfully dedicates her life to bringing the life and love of God to the people of Mozambique, one of the poorest nations in the world. This message she gives is just wonderful - so reviving, refreshing and stirring!